Whether the village-owned Margaret Ann Pool in Oak Hill opens for the 2018 season may rest on a $30,000 fundraising effort that village leaders have initiated.
This decision was made following a long debate at council's regular meeting on Tuesday evening, April 10 and after Mayor Rob Leonard provided more specific information regarding major repairs needed to correct water losses at the 56-year-old pool.
Leonard stated he knew the water loss was high last year and he recently had Stockmeister Enterprises of Jackson assess the pool's condition and needs. Leonard reported that company representatives told him there were cracks in the joints and the pool is losing about half of the water being pumped into it. The company is recommending two long paving projects at the pool base and also coating it. This would seal the pool and Leonard was told this repair should be good for 10 to 12 years.
Leonard stated the situation saddens him because the village has been investing heavily in the pool while keeping the operation afloat with the aid of some donations. Recent investments made by the village in the pool facility have included: a new roof, a new pump (not donated), new sidewalks, concrete work, and a host of other minor repairs.
Leonard further explained these repairs and improvements have come consecutively over time and now the pool is almost totally renovated except the leaking base, which unfortunately is an expensive repair project.
Another problem arose when the pump had to be replaced last year. Leonard noted the timing was bad as it happened in the middle of the summer, which resulted in the loss of revenue from pool parties.
The mayor also wanted to address the pool levy and why that revenue can't cover the base-repair project. "We very much appreciate the pool levy and what it does for our community," he said. "This levy, though, is for salaries and daily operating expenses."
When it came time to make a decision, council took a while to decide as there were some different opinions on the dilemma. Councilwoman Tara Cooper was in favor of fixing the pool and asked Fiscal Officer Jim Slone about the impact of taking the money out of the General Fund. Slone replied there would be negative effects.
Council member Terry McCain stated the village put on an income tax to help the general fund with police operations and he was against transferring money for it. Other suggestions made included council getting a loan to have the work done or having a fundraiser.
Council, as a whole, was against the loan idea and Mayor Leonard stated with the pool set to open in May, there would not be enough time to organize a big fundraiser event. So after much discussion, a private fundraising campaign with a goal of $30,000 was decided upon. Leonard stated if the village had more money and police operations had a bigger budget, getting a loan or transferring funds out of the General Fund may be more feasible, but at this time police operations were considered to be the priority.
Leonard stated if the private fundraising drive fails, the Jackson County Health Department will not approve the pool opening even if the village was willing to pump extra water into it. Therefore, he feels the future of the pool, at least this year, lies with the generosity of prospective donors and he says he and village leaders would appreciate support from the public.
Leonard is asking businesses, organizations and individuals to contribute toward the completion of this project and they can contact him at the Village Hall, 740-682-6301, or contact any council member. They can also drop off donations at the village hall, but donors need to note their donation is for the pool repair project.